Femoral Artery and its branch superficial femoral artery – an overview


The femoral artery is amongst the crucial arteries in the body. It is a big artery in the thigh and is the main arterial supply to the thigh and leg. The femoral artery is the continuation of the external iliac artery and consists of the major blood supply to the lower limb. The femoral artery passes by the femoral triangle in the thigh that is a delta-shaped depression formed by muscles in the upper thigh. The medial and lateral boundaries of such a triangle are formed by the medial margin of the adductor longus and Sartorius.

The roof of the femoral triangle is Fascia Lata and the floor constitutes of pectineus and adductor longus and iliacus and psoas major. Inside this triangle, the femoral artery gets encompassed in a femoral sheath and vein.

Divisions of the femoral artery

The femoral artery gives off the deep femoral artery and continues its path as the superficial femoral artery. This superficial femoral artery is continued distally to the adductor hiatus level where it gets terminated as the poplietal artery. After this, the deep femoral artery halts as perforating arteries in the thighs.

The branches that arise from the common femoral artery involve superficial epigastric artery, external pudendal artery, and the superficial circumflex artery. The common femoral artery merges into the deep femoral artery and superficial femoral artery.

Superficial Femoral Artery

The Superficial femoral artery is the longest artery with fewer in number side branches; it is subjected to external mechanical stresses. Such mechanical stresses involve torsion, compression, and flexion that influence the clinical outcomes and the patency consequences of such region.

SFA plays a significant role to deliver oxygenated blood to the complete lower part of the leg. Prior to entering the adductor canal, it lies off the genicular artery that is responsible to supply part of the knee. Since the SFA traverses the adductor canal, it gives off minor branches towards the thighs muscles. When it emerges from the adductor hiatus, its name renames to the poplietal artery that gives oxygen-rich blood to the complete knee compartment. The arteries like medial and lateral circumflex are raised by deep femoral artery and these arteries supply the hip and femur zone area before deep diving into the thigh area.

Where is the femoral artery?

To locate the femoral artery:

  • Look towards the area, on either side of the crease by separating the leg from the groin region. Take note of any swellings that could represent adenopathy.
  • Now palpate the area by feeling carefully the femoral pulses. If you feel any lymph nodes, notice if they are soft or firm, fixed in a position or are mobile.
  • The femoral pulses could be easily located along the crease midway between the pubic bone and anterior iliac crest.

Below the inguinal ligament, the common femoral artery forms as a continuation of the external iliac artery. It could be found just medial towards the midpoint of the inguinal ligament in the inguinal crease part. There are two bony landmarks that are quite useful to identify inguinal ligament these are anterior superior iliac spine and pubic symphysis. On average, the common femoral artery is almost 4 cm long and lies anterior to the femoral head. The length and diameter are variable.

Branches of the femoral artery

The femoral triangle, the profunda femoris artery exits from the posterolateral part of the femoral artery. It travels distally and posteriorly by giving a way to three branches:

  • Perforating Branches

It contains three to four arteries that perforate the adductor magnus by contributing to the supply of the muscles between the posterior thigh and medial part.

  • Lateral femoral circumflex artery

It wraps around the anterior and lateral part of the femur by supplying some of the muscles on the lateral part of the thighs.

  • Medial femoral circumflex artery

It twists around the posterior side of the femur by supplying its neck and head. This artery could be easily damaged in a fracture of the femoral neck, and avascular necrosis of the femur head may take place.

The medial circumflex femoral artery is located at the upper thigh that supplies the blood towards the neck of the femur. Any damage to the artery following a femoral neck fracture could lead to avascular necrosis of the femoral head.


Now you have detailed information about femoral arteries and their branch superficial femoral artery and related aspects.

There are some symptom that shows certain diseases related to femoral artery it includes claudication (inability to walk) in thighs and calves, poor healing of wound below lesion, discoloured extremities, alterations in sensation, certain end-stage diseases like gangrene or necrosis. Certain chronic health issues that enhance the risk of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) in a patient include diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, smoking, and hyperlipidemia. It must be noticed that the absence of such risk factors does not prohibit a patient from having PAD.

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